Degrees of The Zodiac

by Robin Armstrong

Article was originally published in 1997 in Eastern Systems for Western Astrologers and is used with permission by Red Wheel Weiser, LLC Newburyport, MA, This is the introduction to Mick Jagger’s horoscope.

BEFORE WE BEGIN TO WORK with the I Ching we need to have a brief overview of its history. The origins of the I Ching reach back beyond the beginnings of any recorded history. They are ascribed to a period of Highest Antiquity. This was the time of the Emperor Fu Hsi, 3322 B.C., more than five thousand, years ago. Apparently, Fu Hsi used the I Ching to direct the government and run the nation. By this time, the I Ching would have been developed to an advanced state of social application and literacy, which means that its origins must be traced to a much earlier period.

The I Ching was an oral teaching, like many of the early beliefs. It was passed on from teacher to student; it emphasized the understanding of thoughts, rather than words. The implications of change were a primary concern. It was not until the time of King Wen, who brought about the downfall of the Yin Dynasty, that words were written and added to the I Ching. Before the beginning of the Kau Dynasty in 1122 B.C., King Wen was imprisoned for about a year. It was in prison in 1143 B.C., that words were added to the I Ching. Shortly thereafter Wen was freed and subsequently took over the country. The words just added to the I Ching consisted of meanings for the basic trigram to trigram relationships with each hexagram. King Wen also took the editorial liberty of rearranging the sequence of the trigrams. In so doing he altered our primary relationship to nature (old religions) and redirected it into a numerological and divinatory relationship (newer and more abstract theology). This process is generally accepted by historians without further thought. It is possible that the original clarity and vision of the I Ching and its changes were abstracted and obscured (a process we have experienced greatly over the last thousand years in the West). In any case, words were added, and accepted without question for thousands of years.

King Wen’s son, Tan, the Duke of Kau, added words to the meaning of each line. He died in 1105 B.C., at which time the traditional text of the I Ching, as it stands today, was complete. Since then, many scholars have appended translations and commentaries to the I Ching. It was at the beginning of the Kau Dynasty that words and a new logic were added to the I Ching, replacing the old. The new logic was based on numerological associations, magical squares, and seemingly Quaballistic techniques. It ushered in an era of contemplative abstraction and meditation, replacing the older religions and our relationship to nature and to planets as Gods! As happened in early Christianity, the older teachings were incorporated into the new, and they were redirected.

The original I Ching was, and is, considered to be a Book of Changes. It represented the nature and implications of change and relationships. It was based on a concept of duality and its subsequent implications: such as light and dark, or firm and yielding. It included relationships to nature, to the heavens, to the gods, and to the earth. The I Ching was, in my opinion, the original astrological system, and a very advanced one at that. I believe that when words were added, the astrological clarity of the changes was obscured. It was the way of the new order; the times were changing. I am uncertain however, if the new order was an improvement. This seems to mark a period in history when people began to worship an abstract or inner God, separate from nature.

From this era, Confucianism developed. It was a time of great social and cultural refinement. The Confucian era was also an extremely puritanical and fundamentalistic period, where life, sex, and nature were to be controlled, so that people could be free! Such abstract moralism was too severe for the average person. It was difficult to live up to all the new idealized rules. Much of the addendums to the I Ching were written by Confucius or his students.

Taoism developed as a reaction to the puritanical repressive Confucian order. It brought in a more natural, spontaneous, sensual, and artistic balance as the way of the world. It was less rigid and encouraged the development of a middle way between the senses and the silence.

Confucianism and Taoism both were based upon the ideas presented in the I Ching, and the development of both philosophies contributed to the evolution of the book. The concepts of Yin and Yang also came into existence during this period (about 500 to 300 B.C.).

In 213 B.C., the Emperor of China decided that all books must be burned. The only books to escape were books on medicine, husbandry, and divination. Some books escaped to Japan and surrounding countries, but much was lost. However, the divination aspect of the I Ching survived. I believe that the remaining astrological literacy permeating the I Ching was rewritten, and from this time on, was hidden within the implications of the apparently divinatory wisdom. Astrology has been obscured in many places around the world over the centuries. China was one of these places. A highly advanced form of astrology remained buried or hidden within the I Ching and its words. It was brilliantly buried in the ideas behind the words: easy to see if one could only understand the great secret – the I Ching was, and is, an astrological text, and it was through astrology that the great wisdom and insights originated.


In using the I Ching for divination, one asks a question and throws coins, or counts sticks, to obtain a figure from which meaning is derived. Take out the divination, add astrological computation, and we discover the essence of Horary Astrology! It is my premise that the I Ching, with its 64 hexagrams and subdivisions, was an original zodiac, a zodiac of 64 divisions.

I have spent over thirty years studying the I Ching and its relationship to astrology. Through this method I have developed many insights and correspondences. Each I Ching figure (hexagram) consists of six lines, either broken or solid, arranged on top of each other as in a totem pole. There are only 64 possible combinations of two distinct lines in a six-level totem. These 64 hexagrams measure the circle and stand for the circle (or cycle) of all relationships. The position of each hexagram in the circle is unique, and critical for understanding the changes. One of the puzzles I struggled with, in the early years of my research, was that there are 384 lines in an I Ching circle and 360 degrees in the Western zodiacal circle. Both systems measure the same heavenly circles. In short, there are 24 appropriately placed lines that could be considered neutral. This would allow for a direct correspondence of each line of an I Ching hexagram to a degree of the zodiac. Following upon this correspondence, I have extended the association to subsystems of the zodiac. I have worked vigorously over the last twenty years to confirm this correspondence through its application to individual horoscopes. The following material shows how the I Ching can assist and enhance astrological insights through natal chart evaluation. There are many other astrological techniques that can be further enlightened through the use of the I Ching: progressions, transits, composites, new Moons, eclipses, etc.

To find out about the I Ching hexagrams for your own personal horoscope there are two options:

  1. You can order the computer printouts from me (like the ones used in this article).
  2. You can order back issues of “News By Degrees” V.2 #1, 2, 3, & 4, and V. 3 #1. These issues give the correspondences of the I Ching to each degree of the Zodiac. You will need your own horoscope and planet positions to look up which hexagrams apply. The correspondences are given for two levels only. (The computer printout gives three levels.) Volume 2 #1 to 4 will give the actual correspondence. V.3 #1 gives an example using Carl Jung’s horoscope.’

My work with the I Ching and astrology involves the use of the I Ching as a zodiac of 64 divisions instead of twelve. The planets and their energies become the point of focus. The 64 hexagrams become the zodiac and each line of an I Ching hexagram relates to 1 degree of the zodiac on Level 1. The entire system repeats itself within itself as a subsystem, somewhat similar to the idea of duads, but different. I call the subsystem Pentans. In this subsystem, each zodiacal sign occupies a 5-degree section in six different places around the larger zodiac (Level 1). Also in this subsystem, each hexagram occupies 1 degree and each line occupies 10 minutes of a degree. The entire cycle repeats itself six times around the zodiacal wheel to complete Level 2. There is also a sub-subsystem in which the whole cycle of hexagrams (and the zodiac) is repeated 36 times around the zodiacal wheel. In this sub-subsystem, the I Ching (or zodiac) repeats itself completely every 10 degrees. On this third level, a hexagram occupies 10 minutes of a degree, and each line occupies 1’40” of a degree.

This seems like an extraordinarily small division, but it is nonetheless a very sensitive one that elaborates very significant data. This is most obvious in the study of twins and multiple births, for a small amount of time difference is involved. It should also be noted here that since DNA and the genetic code parallel the I Ching as a language, this work has the potential of validating astrological genetic code research.

So what I have essentially evolved is a system of degree symbols using the I Ching. There are many books on astrological degree symbolism, such as The Sabian Symbols, by Marc Edmond Jones. There are also several books published concerning the I Ching and the zodiac, but the correspondences are usually based on numerology, rather than on astrological phenomena.

I use the horoscope and planet positions to tune into the I Ching via the degrees of the zodiac. As the I Ching measures the zodiacal circle on three levels, it can also be applied to an aspect cycle. In short, any position of a planet or sensitive point that is represented accurately in degrees and minutes will yield three hexagram symbols. In each hexagram one line will be accentuated and have special emphasis.

  • The Level 1 Hexagram is the Main Theme and the line number (L#1-6) is the special emphasis.
  • The Level 2 Hexagram is the Specific Focus and further elaborates the meaning of the line number in Level 1. There is also a specially accentuated line in Level 2.
  • The Level 3 Hexagram is the Intimate Emphasis, and further elaborates the meaning of the line number in Level 2, and there is a specially emphasized line in Level 3.

Not only can a zodiac position produce three hexagrams but so can the 1- to 360-degree aspect phase. Any aspect written in degrees and minutes can also yield three hexagrams.

On the computer printout we will work with, the hexagrams and line numbers are printed out for the ASC, MC, DSC, IC, Sun, Moon, planets, and nodes, as well as for each aspect.

The relationship of Astrology to the I Ching